MOMA Morning Expert – Marky Market
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MOMA Morning Expert – Marky Market

Here at MOMA we love a good morning tip, and where better to get those tips from than the morning experts themselves? We've spoken to some of London's busiest morning people, to see what get's them going in the morning. Let's find out what makes Marky Market, your man at the markets morning!

MOMA Morning Expert – Marky Market
Man of the market

What time do you rise in the morning?
Twice a week I get up at 1.30am and head straight to Smithfield for meat, then Billingsgate for fresh fish at 3.30am. Friday, because everyone wants fresh meat and fish for the weekend, and Wednesday because the fish market is busy on Tuesday when it opens for the week. Going on Wednesday means the traders have more time for me and prices can be fractionally better.

What is your alarm ringtone?
It’s just the iphone default one. Having my phone as an alarm can be troublesome; occasionally customers can wake me if they call to place an order after I’ve gone to bed at 7.30pm.

Do you have any morning rituals?
I’ll have already booked the Zipcar, and there’s nothing I do that’s much different from anyone else getting up. I just do it a bit earlier and a lot more quietly. Having said that, I do make a point of looking out for the foxes on my drive in. There are about half a dozen who always cross my route at exactly the same time each night.

Do you listen to the same radio station in the morning or playlist? If so, what?
I use Zipcars to get to the markets which means that I often have to retune the radio when I get going. Radio 4 World Service is fantastic, I’m hooked on the incredibly niche features they broadcast; who knew there are farms producing rabbit milk for the pharma industry? Also, I think I’m possibly the only person who uses the Shipping Forecast for its original purpose. I’m sure ships must all have proper nav aids these days and the rest of its audience are insomniacs. I listen to find out about the weather around the coast – it really gives me advance warning of how much fish might be about at Billingsgate in the next day or two. I buy fish and shellfish that is supplied by small inshore dayboats and so, if there’s a storm they can’t go out and I know it might be hard to find what I want.

Do you share your early starts with anyone? (family or co workers etc.)
At 2am, markymarket is just me until I get to Smithfield (unless you count the foxes).

Can you describe what your work is like when you first arrive in the morning?
Busy, noisy – white vans, white coats and red meat everywhere. Although Smithfield opens an hour or so before I get there, I make sure I arrive at the same time as that day’s deliveries. That means I can get the pick of the stock, but it also makes parking a nightmare unless you know what’s going on. I find a space, lock the car and check my order book one last time before I head from the calm darkness of the car into a fluorescent-bright world of bellowing butchers.

If you were given an extra hour in the morning, what would you do with it?
I’m not sure I could use another hour. I time my markymarket trips to coincide with the fresh deliveries arriving at Smithfield (any earlier and I’d be looking at yesterday’s stock. Any later and I wouldn’t have the best choice). Then Billingsgate opens at 4am so I can shoot over there and get the freshest fish and shellfish before heading home to organize deliveries later in the morning.

What is the best part of your morning?
It’s all good. There’s not one part that is better than another because I enjoy the variety of my work. I’m part of a whole different world that most people don’t even know about; I didn’t know about it until I started markymarket, so there’s always something new to learn or experience.

Do you find time for exercise in the morning? If so, what?
Carrying a few Middle White pork bellies across the market is all the exercise I need. And I take a market trolley with chiller boxes onto the tube to do my deliveries later in the morning. When you’re standing with 30 kilos of meat and fish at the bottom of a broken escalator, you don’t need gym membership.

What is something you can’t go without in the morning?
I do enjoy a 4am bacon sandwich which, oddly enough, is easier to find at Billingsgate than Smithfield.

What makes your morning awesome?
People who talk to me about markymarket often find it difficult to imagine that there’s anything awesome about getting up at 1.30am to find a joint of Cornish lamb or live razor clams from Shetland, but I really revel in all of it. Driving from Smithfield to Billingsgate in the summer is particularly special though – warm enough to have the windows down as you which the sun come up, you drive along deserted streets, through a Monopoly board of London landmarks and feel like the city has been built just for you.

What advice would you give to someone who is definitely not a morning person?
Get up in the afternoon.

What motivates you to do it everyday?
I like dealing with people who enjoy good food. The butchers and fishmongers at one end of the day, and the people I deliver to at the other. I buy at the markets as if I’m buying for myself and it’s great when customers get that.